A fiting fairwell for a great uncle


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A fiting fairwell for a great uncle

My uncle passed away on May 29 and I just wanted to share an article that was in this mornings paper here in Montreal. He was a great guy and an amazing uncle really going to miss him. His next job was going to be in China and we were already planning a trip to visit him.

RIP Uncle Rick.

A world traveller with a kind heart
Auf der maur's buddy planned to be here for grand prix

The Gazette

Rick Pawlak was a cheeky, Harley-driving, health, safety and security consultant who once served as wingman to Montreal's irreverent city councillor and Gazette columnist Nick Auf der Maur.

Pawlak died May 29 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, following what was described as minor surgery to remove a gall stone. He was 52.

The family is still waiting for the results of an autopsy to learn why he died.

Pawlak's contract as director of health and safety with the Scandinavian multinational ENI Group was up at the end of May. He had planned to be back in Montreal this weekend for the Grand Prix.

"He led a full life for his age, he lived every day to the fullest," his nephew Michael Bisson, who last saw his uncle at his home in Duque de Caxias, Brazil, in December, told The Gazette.

"He travelled the world. He lived well. He could talk to anyone and everyone. And for someone in his 50s, he could still party like a 20-year-old. He enjoyed life.

"He had an acerbic wit. He could be sarcastic but his sarcasm always had a point. He'd bug you to motivate you and you could always bug him back."

Richard Pawlak, the youngest of three children in a Polish immigrant family, was born in Montreal May 15, 1953. He grew up in Park Extension and attended Our Lady of Mount Royal Elementary School, St. Patrick's Boys' School and Loyola High School.

Pawlak was an Air Cadet and took a firefighting course at the St. Laurent CEGEP. His first job, when he was 19, was with the Westmount Fire Department. In the early 1970s he worked on the James Bay hydro project then obtained his bachelor of commerce degree from Universite Laval.

He was hired by the Quebec Social Affairs Ministry in 1984 to become director of security for the Verdun General Hospital. In 1986 he was appointed Director of Security for the Sir George Williams Campus of Concordia University.

Gregarious, sociable, and irascible, Pawlak went to work as a researcher for the Montreal Action Group, one of the many political parties that councillor Nick Auf der Maur represented during his 20 years in municipal politics before his death seven years ago.

Pawlak shared Auf der Maur's love of the downtown bar scene. Like Auf der Maur, Pawlak would go on rants about the absurdity of little things - like a useless sign he saw posted in the Quebec National Assembly which read: Tour guides en anglais, Lundi-Mercredi-Vendredi. He would wonder what sort of dimwit would post such a message aimed specifically at unilingual English-speaking tourists.

Another of Pawlak's pet peeves was the English media's refusal, (namely The Gazette) to cover Montreal's annual Founder's Day observances in May when de Maisonneuve is honoured with a wreath laying ceremony on Place d'Armes.

When Auf der Maur joined what was left of Mayor Jean Drapeau's Civic Party in 1988 and became leader of the opposition shortly thereafter, Pawlak served as his executive assistant.

As the Civic Party went through its death throes in 1992 Pawlak found himself presiding at one of the last Civic Party executive meetings. The situation he remarked, would have had the straight-laced Drapeau spinning in his grave at the thought of the party he founded being run by two bohemian boulevardiers.

Following Auf der Maur's defeat in the 1994 municipal election Pawlak went to work as a health and safety officer for various oil companies in Chad, Cameroon, Dubai, Algeria, Iraq and Brazil.

"He lived a dangerous life, he could have settled for a better life with a lot more security, but he was a thrill seeker. He was very, very generous." said Sid Stevens, Sun Youth's executive vice president.

"He was touched by poverty. He was a loudmouth with a kind heart. As long he was in town he'd be at Sun Youth schlepping stuff from one floor to another every single day. He'd always drop about $2,000 a year or so to send kids to camp, or to help poor families at Christmas. And he never wanted any recognition."

Margo MacGillivray, who often served Pawlak at Winnie's on Crescent St, recalled his love of wine.

"He was very knowledgeable about fine wine, he appreciated good wine," she said. "He was quietly charitable. And he loved his motorcyles."

Wherever Pawlak worked, he'd drive a bike. He owned a Harley-Davidson Firefighters Special Ultra Edition which he kept in Montreal and in Brazil had a teal blue Road King Classic.

About 100 members of the Harley-Davidson club in Rio escorted his coffin to the airport when it was returned to Montreal for burial last Tuesday.

[email protected]

Obituary of Rick Pawlak


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Garbad_the_Weak said:
Sorry to hear beo.

Thanks....he was a great guy I just hope we find out what exactly went on in the operating room that caused him to fall into a coma for two days and then die.


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May he rest in peace.
"Facts an' facts, an' t'ings an t'ings: dem's all a lotta fockin' bull****. Hear me! Dere is no truth but de one truth, an' that is the truth of Jah Rastafari." -- Bob Marley, 1978